12 Gifts to Warm the Heart of Your Anti-Social Friend

TAGS: Chain Mate, Supra Curl Bar, Collegiate Box Squat Box, Hexbar, christmas list, Marilia Coutinho, band pack, farmers walk handles, swiss bar, Cambered bar, Prowlers, sleds, GHR, trap bar, log press, kettlebells

You know the guy. He probably started his home gym rationally, with all of the essential items. But your buddy is in love with barbells, plates, and racks. The more equipment he acquires, the less likely he is to invite you or anybody to play: he has a small treasure, and like any treasure, the items are not supposed to be touched.

He will clean his toys, and he knows a lot about each one, but he doesn’t share.

In the series that I wrote about home gyms (start here for part 1 of 4), I provided a detailed introduction to the intimate, personal, private, and social spaces. Your buddy doesn’t go beyond “intimate.” He has a strictly individual relationship with his training space and everything that makes it his own.


RELATED: Top-5 Christmas Gifts for Powerlifters Trapped in a Corporate Gym


This buddy is me. There are many versions of such misanthropes around, and while this list will make their days, months, and years, it will make any true appreciator of strength training happy.

We assume that the home gym where these items will be incorporated already has the basics: a good rack, a bench, a power bar, a female/male Olympic weightlifting bar, a deadlift bar, iron plates, and bumper plates. Assume he has collars and a deadlift jack, and assume that he has straps and chains or we’ll leave it for his birthday.

trap bar

1. Hexbar or Trap Bar

The trap bar is known as equipment for training traps (thus the name “trap bar”). Lifters use it mostly for lifting, though. In fact, Al Gerard, who invented and patented the trap/hex bar, was allegedly inspired by his success with rack pulls, which improved his numbers on the conventional deadlift. Heffernan wrote a good review on the trap bar history and how not only Gerard but also other coaches incorporated the equipment to improve the deadlift.

The trap bar pull resembles, in some aspects, the concentric phase of the squat and has been successfully used to improve maximal force, power, and velocity.

It is a pull, though (not a squat). It is always comforting to see that recent research backs our shared perception concerning the effective transfer from trap bar pulls to deadlift performance, as well as the injury-prevention benefits.

I personally used the hex bar for these exact reasons and had good results.

Finally, what an elegant piece of equipment! Look at her: Isn’t she a beauty?

2. A Swiss Bar

The Swiss or “multi-grip” bar is a specialty bar favored by benchers but not only them. This is versatile equipment with several potential uses for pressing (flat, inclined, overhead) or even for triceps work, cleans, and pushups.

The patent priority date was 2011, and its design has been used in different forms, materials, and barbell lengths.

multi grip from patent

Image credit:  https://patents.google.com/patent/US8951170B1/en

The multi-grip bar allows for different grip angles, with different muscle activation and comfort for injured joints. Not only that but also there are true strength gains and strength transfer to be obtained from the unique exercises that can be performed with it.

Finally, she’s so absolutely beautiful! Look at her: Isn’t she irresistible?

swiss bar

3. Cambered Bar

The cambered bar is a bar that has two weight bar sections at different heights. This is a typical cambered bar:

cambered bar 1

Some people consider the safety bar to be a type of cambered bar, like Conor Heffernan.

The original patent actually described any bar with different weight sections—the simple cambered bar and the safety bar:

cambered safety bar patent

Image credit: https://patents.google.com/patent/US7112164B1/en

Like the previous two items, it is also versatile equipment. A common use for the cambered bar is on the bench press, allowing for an increased range of motion. It can also be used for barbell shrugs and bench rows.

cambered bar - uses 1 cambered bar - uses 2

Image credit: Corey Stephen 1991 https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Citation/1991/02000/The_cambered_bar.7.aspx

The safety bar is a safety bar: It provides safety to people with injuries, for example. It is also frequently employed in assistance work on the squat because it changes the mechanics of the lift.

This is a typical safety bar:

safety bar

Even if your anti-social friend is not chronically injured, I’m sure he will love a cambered bar for all of its awesome uses.

It’s very pretty, too.

4. Log Press 

Strongmen will obviously love this. The use of strongman implements in strength and conditioning training in collegiate athletics, professional sports, or even strength-training-loving-people (like your anti-social friend) is becoming widespread. Studies show that they are at least as effective as traditional resistance training programs in improving the aspects of body composition, muscular function, and performance, with the additional benefit of developing kinesthetic awareness and agility. In other words, clumsy is good (“odd objects”).

Clumsy also becomes less clumsy with practice, and clumsy is fun.

Finally, it’s a beautiful piece of equipment — just look at it:

5. GHR

The key point here is: You have to do specific hamstring-glute work as part of your injury prevention routine even if not for its significant transfer concerning strength gains and, finally, aesthetic purposes (bigger butt).

Nothing beats the GHR in that respect. This one is small and fits easily in a home gym environment:

Like all of the previous items, the GHR is also versatile and can be used for back raises, bilateral leg lifts, one-leg glute ham raises, one-leg back raises, side bending torso training, Russian twists, standing inclined tricep extensions, standing inclined dumbbell presses, standing ab work with bands (attached to footplate), and upper back stretching.

It’s cute, too.

6. Collegiate Box Squat Box 

Everybody needs boxes. We need boxes for box squatting, for plyometric work, to use as support for things like glute thrusts, etc. A home gym is not exactly a place for a collection of boxes. An adjustable platform does the work much better:

box

This is not an object for visitors to sit on and chat, as visitors are not even welcome at your anti-social friend’s home gym.

Besides all of the awesomeness described, it is a stylish piece of equipment. Anyone would love that.

7. Farmer’s Walk Handles

Together with the yoke, this is one of my favorite implements. The movements executed with them are some of the most complete strength and conditioning work you can do. The “walking” strongman events, incorporated into “odd object” strength and conditioning training, provide the unique development of inter-muscular coordination and core activation. They are also mechanically unique, producing higher anterior-posterior and vertical forces, even greater than a conventional deadlift.

The weight room perception from experienced strength coaches as to the benefits of the farmer’s walk, and the strength transfer it produces to other lifts now has scientific backing now.

farmers

Your anti-social friend obviously lives in a house and has a backyard. With this equipment, he has a great opportunity to get some fresh air without having to meet people!

This is a graceful pair that will look good at your friend’s temple.

8. Band Pack

Bands have too many uses to list. Some include rehab and prehab work; dynamic effort lifts, supra-maximal lifts (like the reverse band lifts), etc. Even non-lifting people have some version of bands at home due to their versatility and the benefits of the tension variation they provide.

Even if your anti-social friend has a set of bands in his initial basic setting, you can never have too many bands.

bands

A little color adds beauty to a home gym.

9. Supra Curl Bar 

This beauty is fairly recent, with a patent priority date of 2016. The patent document is straightforward concerning the benefits of the barbell with rotatable handgrips: You can vary the angle of a dumbbell grip, but you still have two independent dumbbells consisting of a rod connecting two masses. Good, or great, but maybe not ideal depending on your goal or your injury. Of course, you can use several barbells to alter the grip angle, proportionately activating different muscles or preserving injured areas. Before the rotatable hand-grip barbell, you had either two independent dumbbells providing infinite angle variation or a small number of barbells providing some angle variation but greater stability. Now you have both in one elegant equipment.

supracurl

Look at her: Isn’t she a beauty?

10. Chain Mate

Your friend obviously has a set of chains. Have you any idea how clumsy it is to improvise ways of hanging chains on a bar? This is a gift that will make any home gym owner ecstatic.

chain mate

11. Sleds and Prowlers

Sleds (dragging) and prowlers (pushing) are some of the traditional strongman and “odd object” training equipment now widely used in strength and conditioning training. They simultaneously provide significant hip extensor forces, instability, acceleration development, and an incomparable metabolic stimulus.

prowler

Again, your friend has a backyard: That’s where he will play with his prowler/sled.

Observe that a good prowler equipment can be used as a sled.

sled

It is also classy.

12. Kettlebells

Kettlebells are mandatory equipment pieces for any gym, including home gyms. In fact, they were the smallest strength training units addressing whole body training for centuries. The kettlebell construction, where the center of mass is dislocated from the handle, is responsible for some of its unique properties and benefits. It is also responsible for your getting hurt if you don’t learn how to use it properly but your friend knows how.

As with bands and other items, you can never have enough kettlebells (not true: there is a limited number of weights for kettlebells, so ask your friend which ones he already has).

Their original name is girya, a Russian word derived from the Persian word “heavy.” It received its English name in the early 20th century when it was used in strongman circus feats of strength. Anyway, it does look like a kettle, doesn't it?

old kettle

Image credit: By SINternet - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70621390

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 12 kettlebells a-swinging, 11 sleds a-draggin’, 10 chains a-hanging, nine curl bars a-twistin’, eight bands a-stretchin’, seven farmers walkin’, six boxes a-boxin’, five GHR butt-burnin’, four logs a-pressin’, three cambars a-movin’, two swiss bars, and a hex bar underneath a pear tree.

custom-built-ghr

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